Update, March 18th, 2015: What can we say? A superlative performance in Croke Park yesterday by Corofin, managed by Ballinrobe resident and member of our club, Stephen Rochford. The record books will show that few, if any, teams in the history of the club championship marched so convincingly through the entire campaign from the opening rounds in their county through to the impossible glamour of Croke Park yesterday.
The record books may also show, according to some reports yesterday evening, that Stephen is the first man to win an All-Ireland club title as a player with one club and then go on to manage another club to the same feat.
A very proud day for Stephen, his wife Laura Gill, their baby son Darragh (who braved the cold of Croke Park yesterday and even featured on television – see a hastily grabbed image alongside – plus see the Marty Party pic below too), and the extended Rochford and Gill families.
It brings a crazy few weeks to a close as Laura played a leading role (Sylvia) in Ballinrobe Musical Society’s production of All Shook Up last month.
The homecoming is in Corofin this evening. Can’t imagine that will be a low-key affair!
March 15th, 2015: Stephen Rochford is a native of Crossmolina – as a player, he captained Mayo at minor level. He won six Mayo senior medals with the famous Deel Rovers club, three Connacht club titles and one All-Ireland club title when, in 2001, they were the first Mayo team to bring home the Andy Merrigan Cup.
That victory came just prior to the foot-and-mouth outbreak and capped a month in which Mayo seniors won the NFL title (beating Galway in Croke Park) and the U21s (with our very own Micheal Keane, Sean Grimes, Paul Finnerty and Paul Tiernan on board) defeated Meath in the All-Ireland semi-final in Longford . Mayo subsequently lost the final to Tyrone in Sligo, after the foot-and-mouth outbreak had been brought under control six months later.
Stephen lives in Ballinrobe, having first moved here to work in AIB Bank and later meeting and marrying local woman Laura Gill.
Stephen is an active member of our club, and, along with Tuam native Alan Flynn, he coached our U21s to win the 2007 Mayo B championship. In recent times, he was a member of the group that produced our Coaching Plan (2015 to 2020). He played rugby for Ballinrobe RFC, for which club he also served as treasurer for a period. And he has been known to get suited and booted in his monkey suit to show people to their seats at the annual Ballinrobe Musical Society productions. So he’s heavily embedded in local life in Ballinrobe.
This Tuesday, Stephen is back on the All-Ireland club final stage, this time as manager of Corofin, who play Derry side Slaughtneil. Few days mean as much to the GAA supporter as St Patrick’s Day in Croke Park. Club people go there – or watch on television – and wonder ‘might we ever see our colours here on this famous day?’
We also acknowledge the fact that the man who has driven Corofin’s extraordinary under-age system, Frank Morris, has been very good to our club over the years – on at least two occasions, he has come down here to do information sessions with our coaches. He was regularly referenced by various speakers during the many discussions that led to our coaching plan.
We wish Stephen, Frank and Corofin the very best on Sunday.